The Final Girls
Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson
A young woman grieving the loss of her mother, a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself pulled into the world of her mom's most famous movie. Reunited, the women must fight off the film's maniacal killer.
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★★★½ review by Hollie Horror on Letterboxd
Any horror comedy that makes me cry receives an automatic 3+ rating. I don't have too much to say about The Final Girls other than I found it enjoyable and I really, really loved the character of Tina ("What's up with this cassette?"), she was adorable and hilarious and looked the most '80s of the entire cast, I also [always] really like Alia Shawkat. It was also almost surreal to watch a movie co-written by Joshua John Miller, who starred in a few '80s staples (and maybe it packed a bit more of an emotional punch knowing that Miller conceptualized the movie to help cope with the loss of his father, Jason Miller, who starred in The Exorcist).
★★★★ review by Daniel Rodriguez on Letterboxd
It seems that The Cabin in the Woods success brought meta-Horror back to life: 'The Final Girls', 'Final Girl', 'Digging up the Marrow' and 'The Editor' on the big screen; 'Scream' and 'Scream Queens' on the small screen... It's pretty popular!
Final Girls features a group of friends that gets "magically" trapped inside the most popular slasher movie of all time, 'Bloodbath Camp' aka 'Friday the 13th'. It is pretty much a fantasy horror that references slasher movie and uses a lot of genre gimmicks in fantastic ways. It is a lighthearted movie, free from gore or nudity, which took away a bit of the "magic" of 80s slashers, but there is more to like about it though. To name a few things, I would say the characters, which are pretty nice, the killer himself, the visual effects, the synth soundtrack, the ending...
Final Girls might not have a brilliant final act like Cabin in the Woods for instance, but I liked it a lot better, it's much more entertaining.
And now, a possibly controversial statement: Taissa Farmiga is the best Final Girl/Scream Queen/Badass Chick of this newest generation.
★★★★ review by Travis Lytle on Letterboxd
A complete and exuberant surprise, Todd Strauss-Schulson's "The Final Girls" is a hilarious and heartfelt deconstruction of the typical 1980s slasher film. Not a horror film in and of itself, "The Final Girls" celebrates that genre with a potent blend of comedy, fantasy, and familial drama. It is a smart, funny, and touching piece of work that bubbles with charm and entertaining energy.
The story is better left discovered by its audience, but, in broad strokes, follows a group of teens who find themselves sucked into notorious 1980s faux-slasher, "Camp Bloodbath." The teens, well-aware of the horror tropes at work in the film, search for a way to escape the film while saving the film's characters from certain death.
The heart beating within the narrative is three-fold. First, that heart is a smart observation of the character types that people such horror films. "The Final Girls" works to uncover the authentic and specific humanity behind such archetypes as the shy girl with the guitar and the clipboard, and the adventurously promiscuous damsel. Second, the film presents contemporary characters who are layered rebuttals of their decades-old counterparts. Instead, of a prototypical athletic lunkhead, the film presents an athlete who is smart and sensitive. Instead of the standard mean-girl, the film offers a wounded, introverted soul. Third, "The Final Girls" provides an unashamedly sentimental yet potent and genuine examination of a mother-daughter relationship.
The production puts a premium on its comedy, but also works hard to duplicate the textures of what its celebrates. It sends up slasher films by providing those films' spitting image. The film moves quickly and buoyantly, generating visual and aesthetic excitement with its design and playful camera work. The cast is well-chosen, easily communicating the film's required comedy or emotion.
"The Final Girls" takes apart the slasher film and, in doing so, results in something clever and completely entertaining. Full of wit and surprising warmth, the film is both a living tribute to the horror subgenre and an appealing comic-fantasy in its own right. Its smart script, energized direction, and ideal cast make it a wholly satisfying and engaging genre-bender.
★★★★ review by Jim Drew on Letterboxd
I could imagine my rating going up in time but this is the stuff alright.
Just mentioning the films Scream, Cabin in the Woods and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil will most likely clue you in on what this kind of is and tone-wise it's most like Tucker. But the films this 'homages' most I think are the Friday 13th series and its ilk. I'm not the biggest fan of those 80's slashers to be honest, though The Burning is here too and that's a pretty good one.
So knowing that this is a reference/meta heavy slasher comedy will have some of you running away screaming. And I'm not sure this is the film to change your mind but you'd probably at least dig some of the ingenuity displayed.
But the rest of us who lap up this stuff, this is up there. A GREAT premise which I'll get to in another review. I think it's best, like all films to be honest, if you know very little going in.
Funny, clever and full of heart. And some beautiful looking shots.
Will be keeping an eye on these guys.
★★★★ review by Steve G on Letterboxd
It took me about two minutes to be very, very worried about this film.
Horror film in-referencing is something that I rarely enjoy and have more or less detested ever since the Scream franchise was shat into civilisation. But once Dance Hall Days and Bette Davis Eyes had been belted out a few minutes later, I was starting to warm to it and then about 15 minutes after that I was starting to be won round completely by it.
Inevitably, in a film like this, you do have to endure the usual horror film referencing nerd (Thomas Middleditch), but he's made less irritating than is normally the case in a film like this by being 'killed off' relatively early. In fact, I'm actually struggling to think of anything I didn't really like about The Final Girls. I did have the feeling, about 15 minutes from the end, that it hadn't quite done enough with its fabulous concept. But it could be one of those occasions where the finished product actually had no chance of being quite as fabulous as the main idea behind it.
I think what I liked about it most, and I've already commented about this in several places, so apologies if you've heard me rabbit on about this before, is that it's an affectionate knock on slasher films. There's nothing worse than a parody or lampooning that shows absolutely no love for what it is mocking. One of the main reasons (of many, admittedly) that Seltzer and Friedberg's films are so terrible is that's a really sneering, condescending tone to what they are supposed to be commenting on.
That never felt like the case in The Final Girls. Todd Strauss-Schulson certainly pokes fun at the most ridiculous aspects of the holiday camp slasher film and amps up those aspects even further. But it never feels mean spirited and so many of the references are clearly coming from people who know the genre and love the genre, for all its faults and problems. It's reflected by characters who more or less feel the same way too.
That, perhaps, is why I enjoyed The Final Girls so much. Certainly the various tricks with flashbacks and the use of the movie set are clever and amusing, but Strauss-Schulson decides to go one better with his film. He doesn't just make it a 'real life people stuck in a horror film' situation, but he plays with developing relationships between the characters, making for some genuinely touching moments between Taissa Farmiga and Malin Akerman especially. Who would have expected THAT from a film like THIS?
Its comedy is fairly broad at times but contained, especially, within Angela Trimbur's dumb-as-a-rock camp counsellor and Adam DeVine's borderline obscene horny jock, there are loads of laughs to be had. DeVine especially is completely fantastic here, with some amazing turns of phrase contained within an exaggerated but, at the same time, absolutely spot on take on similar such slasher film dudebros. But the overall quality of performances is well above what I would reasonably have expected from a film like this.
Alia Shawkat's comic timing is as present and correct as I was led to believe by people telling me how good she is in stuff that I'll never get round to watching, and is superb. Nina Dobrev doesn't allow herself to be restricted by being lumbered with being the 'bitchy hot' one either - the scene where she chastises Trimbur for taking her pills is fantastic. Farmiga finds the difficult line between fragility and strength in the lead role, but that Akerman is way ahead of what the rest of this cast offers is as big a testament as I can give to just how good she is here. It's a genuinely wonderful performance that I don't think I could praise highly enough.
Topped off with a brilliant ending that is both clever and ambiguous (the best way to end any horror film), and The Final Girls is far, far better than the tiresome meta exercise that I was worried it might be. Now let's have that sequel please.
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